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1989 JUDGES RULING, IGNORED BY CERRITOS CITY ATTORNEY, TAKES BARROWS OUT OF COUNCIL RACE

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By Brian Hews

Five  weeks  ago Hews Media Group-Community News published a report pertaining to Article IV of the Cerritos City Charter, which was re-written after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition H in 1988 that mandated term limits.

Barrows supporters, who cited then Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s 2004 opinion, slammed the report.

 

 

BRUCE BARROWS VIOLATED CERRITOS CITY CHARTER, CANNOT RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL IN APRIL 2017

 

 

 

Conversely, Cerritos voting residents who are tired of seeing the same city council members cycle through the City every two years, praised the report.

The City, through its attorney, sent out a press release to all media outlets contradicting the report citing the 2004 AG’s opinion, even taking the highly unusual and questionable step of posting the letter on the City’s website under “Top Stories.”

 

 

 

The City and City Attorney posted the letter on the City’s website and also sent the letter, through the Communications Department, to all media outlets.

 

 

 

The reaction by Barrows supporters and the City was  vitriolic.. and it was premature.

HMG-CN traveled to the Los Angeles County court archives and obtained two judicial decisions from 1988 and 1989 that invalidate the AG’s opinion.

Judge J. Kimbal Walker stated in his 1988 decision, case number SEC 66417, “When the (1988) election is had, all the council members will be ineligible to run or serve a third consecutive term.”

Judge Jerold Krieger stated in his 1989 decision, case number SEC 77109,  “it is adjudged and decreed that any member of the City Council of the city of Cerritos who has served more than two consecutive terms is prohibited from seeking reelection.”

 

 

Ruling by Judge Krieger in 1989, “consecutive two-terms… is prohibited from seeking reelection.” The ruling was clear and Attorney General Lockyer was in error rendering an opinion in 2004 given this 1989 ruling. The City spent at least $100,000 defending the City in the lawsuit, fighting an initiative that was passed by over 65% of Cerritos residents.

 

 

 

Both rulings should effectively ban Barrows from running for office in April.

The judicial rulings also call into question the City Attorney’s own motives and actions in not following the rulings since 1989, and not  informing City personnel, including the Cerritos City Clerk’s office of the court cases, while relying on an AG’s opinion written fifteen years later.

 

 

Attorney General Lockyer’s 2004 opinion on Article IV, the opinion should have never been issued as there was a “controlling authority,” the 1989 Krieger ruling. Click on image to read opinion.

 

 

 

Judges rulings are law; AG opinions, according to the AG’s own website, are advisory.

Worse, the ‘88/’89 court decisions were inexplicably left out of the AG’s 2004 decision.

And they were left out of Cerritos City Attorney Mark Steres’ press release.

HMG-CN talked to a legal advisor who stated, “Steres should have, at the very least, considered the content of the 1988-89 judicial rulings, along with Lockyer’s opinion, before writing the press release.”

The 1989 court case, filed Nov. 2, saw Hydelita Soto, representing herself, go up against the powerful City of Cerritos’ law firm of Brown, Winfield, and Conzoneri (Brown), who was paid by the city of Cerritos to defeat Prop H.

It was a classic David versus Goliath scene, but Soto still won the case.

From the size of the briefs, it looked as if Cerritos spent well over $100,000 fighting Prop H, a proposition that over 65% of Cerritos residents voted for.

Soto, after winning, received $1,364 in fees.

The case centered around the now infamous Article IV which stated “any Council member who has served two consecutive four year terms shall not be eligible for a period of two years to seek reelection.”

Barrows served two consecutive Cerritos council terms, starting in 2007 and leaving office in March 2015.

In the report, HMG-CN wrote that Barrows could not “seek” office until March 2017-two years after he left office-thereby disqualifying him from the council race after Barrows filed in late January 2017.

Five days later, Cerritos’s City Attorney Mark Steres sent out the release citing the 2004 opinion written by then California AG Bill Lockyer.

In his 2004 opinion, which was not a judicial court ruling, Lockyer ruled that Paul Bowlen and John Crowley could retain their council seats and that Article IV did not ban candidates from running for office in two years after serving two consecutive four-year terms.

Ironically, the ruling was in complete conflict with the vocal and extremely well funded No on Prop. H campaign, who’s members obviously thought the proposition was a complete ban on running for council after serving tow consecutive terms.

The No on Prop H campaign  spent more than $50,000 to defeat the initiative, garnering most of the money from questionable developers who had an interest in keeping certain City Council members in their seats.

 

 

The No on H campaign materials boldly and succinctly stated, “if this amendment passes, any city councilmember in their second term cannot be a candidate for an additional term.”

Days after the Lockyer’s opinion, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a well respected legal newspaper based in Los Angeles, wrote an article stating that, “Lockyer has opined that Prop. H refers to the date of the next general election, not the date that a person becomes a candidate.”

 

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE.

 

Met News stated that the opinion interpreting a city charter by Lockyer was “highly unusual” and something that Lockyer “declined to do in at least two cases” earlier in the year.

Met News cited Lockyer’s decision to refuse to rule on whether Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo held his office in accordance with the Los Angeles’ City Charter.

Several individuals, including then-Public Defender Michael Judge, had claimed that Delgadillo had not been qualified to practice law prior to taking office because he was an inactive State Bar member for a period of time.

Lockyer cited the “usual practice of not interpreting local charters and ordinances in determining Delgadillo’s case.”

Later, Lockyer denied to rule on a case brought by citizens of Inyo County who contended that having a single individual hold two local positions violated a local initiative.

And recently, HMG-CN sent a letter asking the current AG to intervene in Cerritos in relation to Article IV.

The AG’s office wrote, “It is our general policy that local governments are primarily responsible for citizen complaints, and that appropriate local resources should be utilized for the resolution of such complaints.”

It is unknown why Lockyer ruled on the Cerritos case in 2004, when just months before, Lockyer refused to rule on two very similar cases.

His opinion becomes even more questionable given that Lockyer failed to cite the two judicial decisions in 1988 and 1989.

The exclusion calls into serious question the accuracy of the AG’s opinion.

In the 1989 Soto v Brown case, Brown spared no expense in litigating with Soto, citing 21 precedent cases, four articles from the California Constitution, four government codes, and one evidence code.

The information from the case was readily available, yet Lockyer inexplicably cited only one case from Brown list in his 2004 opinion.

The 1989 Case-David versus Goliath-

The case began in Nov 1989 with Soto, arguing in her initial brief that Prop H. should be read literally and enforced.

“Defendant, city of Cerritos, acting through city attorney Brown, has expressed its intent not to comply with the charter amendment (Prop. H), therefore a judicial declaration is necessary.”

Brown subsequently filed what is called a demur 28 days later asserting the lawsuit could be quickly resolved because Soto did not present a valid case. Brown cited the 21 cases, and several articles under the constitution.

On December 11 Soto filed an Amicus Curiae . An Amici is someone who is not a party to a case and is not solicited by the party but who assists the court by offering information on the case. The decision whether to admit the information lies at the discretion of the court.

The information was later allowed by Judge Krieger.

The two people who offered advice were David Diaz of the Los Angeles City Two-Term Limit Coalition and current L.A. City Councilman Curren Price Jr. who at the time was with Inglewood Citizens for Reasonable Reform.

Diaz was attempting to amend the Los Angeles City Charter to two terms in office; Price Jr. was doing the same thing to the Inglewood City Charter.

Messrs. Diaz and Price Jr. stated, “The attack by the city of Cerritos on the initiative measure passed by the people of Cerritos challenges the power of the people to limit terms of office of their elected officials. The two initiatives presently circulating in Los Angeles and Inglewood maybe directly threatened by the first decision of the trial court in this action.”

“An adverse trial court decision could also threaten initiatives currently being circulated in San Jose as well as current term limitation provisions in place in fifteen charter cities in California. The decision could have a significant effect on term limitations provisions already in place.”

The two slammed Brown for their obvious conflict of interest position, “the failure of the city attorney to defend the citizens gives the appearance of a conflict of interest by supporting the position of the incumbents on the City Council who pay Brown’s bills.”

“They are using the resources of the city to attack the provisions that affect their tenure in office. That raises the issue of the credibility of the city’s position.”

“In addition, the conflict exists in the city attorney’s obligation as city attorney to be a public officer. His duties include vigorous enforcement in defense of the laws passed by the people yet he is defending the legislative body that is challenging the charter amendment.”

The two finished stating, “The charter provision was passed by initiative. Any ambiguity should be interpreted in favor of the people.”

Brown argued that local governments cannot limit the tenure of local elected officials and that State law preempted Prop. H.

Charter counties and general law cities are granted specific power by the state when not in conflict with state laws.

Charter cities, such as Cerritos, are granted plenary (unlimited) powers except as to those that have been preempted by the State.

Krieger ruled that the court must “ look to the test for preemption set forth (in a case called) in re Hubbard.”

“Is there an adverse effect of the local ordinance (Prop H.) on transient citizens of the State that outweighs the possible benefit to the city?”

Krieger ruled that Prop. H did not have an effect on the transient citizen.

“By definition, the person who would become ineligible to run for office has been in the city for at least eight years.”

“The person who votes must have been registered to vote and residents of the city for a period of 30 days.”

Krieger stated that the court finds there has been no preemption meaning Prop H. was valid under the Cerritos City Charter.

“The court finds that there is no ambiguity as to the applicability of the limit in the number of terms to those council members who have served two terms as of the date of the next election.”

Brown’s demur was denied.

On December 27, 1989 a judgment was entered with Krieger saying, “it is hereby adjudged and decreed that any member of the City Council of the city of Cerritos who have served two or more consecutive terms is prohibited from seeking reelection pursuant to the provisions of Article IV of the Charter of the city of Cerritos.”

Attorney General’s opinions are usually treated as authoritative by the officers and agencies who have requested them.

But the city of Cerritos did not request the 2004 AG’s opinion, Cerritos residents requested the opinion.

The AG’s website states, “Opinions of the Attorney General, while not binding, are entitled to “great weight.” In the absence of controlling authority, these opinions are persuasive since the legislature is presumed to be cognizant of that construction of the statute.(Napa Valley Educators’ Association v. Napa Valley Unified School Disrict. (1987) 194 Cal.App.3rd 243, 251.)

But there was a controlling authority- the 1988 decision by Walker and the 1989 decision by Krieger, therefore the AG’s opinion is overridden.

In reality the AG, given the 1988/’89  decisions, should have never opined on Article IV.

HMG-CN sent an email Wednesday to City Attorney Mark Steres and City Manager Art Gallucci alerting them that HMG-CN wanted a quote Thursday afternoon. HMG-CN sent a second email on Thursday describing the story, that email went unanswered. HMG-CN sent another email Friday, this time to Gallucci, Steres, Barrows, and all City Council members asking for comment, that email went unanswered.

 

Click here to see Part 1 of the 80 page Soto v. Brown Case

Click here to see Part 2 of the 80 page Soto v. Brown Case

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Responses to 1989 JUDGES RULING, IGNORED BY CERRITOS CITY ATTORNEY, TAKES BARROWS OUT OF COUNCIL RACE

  1. Chris foster Reply

    March 30, 2017 at 8:06 am

    For the second time, the Cerritos city attorney has shown this story to be wrong. Now, from my experience, real newspapers run corrections. When the mistake is of this magnitude, they run retractions.Want to be considered a real newspaper? Here’s your chance.

  2. George Medina Reply

    March 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    The City Attorney must resign due to either incompetence or at worst, willingly and knowingly, ignore the law.
    The first order of business of the incoming council is to appoint a third party independent Audit Committee to investigate if the motives were tied in to financial serf serving interests. This is the only way to restore the honesty and integrity of public servants who serve WE, the people.

    We must not allow candidates for City Council whose interests may be perceived as a potential conflict of interests, to be elected.

    Lastly, the election may be non-partisan, but candidates, however, reflect their partisan philosophy.
    So let me leave you with one thought:
    Republicans are fault finders while Democrats are problem solvers. In closing, remember that “People will do what YOU allow them to do.

  3. Res Ipsa Reply

    March 26, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    After reading above it seems like a far question at least by your ethical standards. And who is this “legal advisor” you consulted with? We would all very much like to know his name. I know he isn’t an attorney because anyone with a bar number who has looked at this has unequivocally that BARROWS IS A LEGITIMATE AND LAWFUL CANDIDATE.

    The cases you reference above have NOTHING to do with the 2004 opinion which is why they weren’t cited. The issue in those cases dealt with incumbent councilmembers seeking their 3rd, 4th or 5th consecutive terms. That was what the judge decided. NOWHERE does prohibit an individual from running after sitting out for two years. Again that’s why Edwards and many others have already LAWFULLY done this after prop H. Perhaps your ‘legal advisor’ missed this, or perhaps you are simply intent on trying to influence an election with lies and dishonesty to satisfy your own personal bias.

    This of course explains why you’re not getting any responses from anyone on council, the city attorney, or the city manager. George Washington once said, “associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” The reason you hear crickets Mr. Hews is that Cerritos and its citizens see you for the fraud that you are and they don’t want any part of it.

    And as before, a screenshot for those who believe in journalistic integrity… and no, I’m still not Chris Foster.

  4. Voting Cliff Hanger 101 Reply

    March 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Cerritos Prop H.

    TO: Bruce Barrows:
    [email protected]

    This story reminds me of 1980’s-1990’s, great grandfather Proposition 103, ( Think this is correct #) California Insurance Proposition to regulate automobile insurance companies. Voters of the state passed strong regulation to control automobile insurance pricing, redlining, cancellations and voters wanted a rebate. The insurance companies lobbied heavily against this, proposition was over turned in favor of the insurance carriers. Insurance commissioners did squat to protect the consumers throughout the state.

    After it was drastically past by the voters, insurance companies spent years and years, countless appeals, and finally the insurance company’s prevailed. There were no winners, cuz the insurance companies spent millions of dollars in litigation to over turn the insurance proposition. Unfort. for the consumer, no rebates either.

    So many of these propositions which we voters pass, such as proposition H, spend years and years in courts, and there are no winners.

    Bruce Barrows and others like him, which Term Limits were to protect the voting consumer, are not for the voters First Philosophy ………………..Bruce Barrows only cares about himself and selfish motives for representing a RINO political party. Voters first theory, is junior to Term Limits Squabbles.

    Voters in 90703 are already voting for 2017 elections, via absenteeism, but all of the Prop H abuse and narratives surrounding Prop H has clearly toxicated the campaigns trails and created many voters from shying away from voting; real candidates which are running, have had their shot of good clean campaigning ruined by very selfish candidate Bruce Barrows. What ugly disgrace Bruce Barrows has left on the city , his family, city hall and his hood at Destino Street, directly west of the Cerritos Town Center.

    Cerritos Chamber of Commerce and the Womans Club, both have had their politic names in the toilet bowl too.

    This wont be the only proposition which has created turmoil, and it wont be the last. This type of epic political warfare only tarnishes voters from joining certain political parties and aborts many residences from either voting or becoming registered voters. This is why the number of voters is drastically reduced in size over the past century in city, county, state and nation.

    As for the city attorney, it is long over due, city must put out an open call circulation for a new city attorney, to replace said law firm, which will return calls. Said old firm has been around much to long and has lost its credibility among its peers, colleagues and 50,000 residents.

    Bruce Barrows definitely is a 5 star a…hole politician, he has more than demonstrated his jailer stripes. Now he can retire from politics and return as a brick engineer in Glendale, Ca..

    FROM: Voting Cliff Hanger 101

    • Medicare Molly Reply

      March 25, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Cerritos city council needs to remember, they are chosen like Hollywood celebrities, many shut-ins, seniors and immigrants coming into the city, they only watch the city council reruns, and that’s their only connection with the city.

      When our own homegrown Hollywood celebrities elected to council, turn sour, their chance of reaching out to the TV viewers is greatly reducedddddd. This debacle over term limits, and the power of eliminating The Forum (s) ; all has tragic results not only on this election, –BUT– will be carried over to many other City council’s .

      Problem with this election will not stop in 2017, we will see the fall out for the next decade or more>>…. and it will also tune out the Beauty of TV- Audio-PC’s, many voters are glued to the computers and TV monitors just for the sake of watching elected celebrities to our city council.

      Prop H will be carried over to all high school Political Science classes equally. This past week, entire Senior Center is mad and upset over this. Most are just completely tuning off the council, along with city hall stages. Tuning out, only promotes more corruption to be breed.

    • Email Looter Reply

      March 26, 2017 at 12:08 am

      “HMG-CN sent an email Wednesday to City Attorney Mark Steres and City Manager Art Gallucci alerting them that HMG-CN wanted a quote Thursday afternoon. HMG-CN sent a second email on Thursday describing the story, that email went unanswered. HMG-CN sent another email Friday, this time to Gallucci, Steres, Barrows, and all City Council members asking for comment, that email went unanswered”

      ——-Reply——
      Why do you think staff and council only talk on phone, emails leave a trail. CM office is bugged, to record everyone. Why do you think all candidates forums are not on archive, they don’t want to be reminded of the lies, ugly false news stories, they promoted during election. Four ( 4) male council persons, all keep the wallets close their butts, as their corrupt money trail is as filthy as their personal hygiene manure.

      One female council person, totes a shopping bag, to stash her device wares of her bedfellows. Hmmm, odd, we only have 1-2 females elected to council, because of the fat get-a-way bags of loot they make off with.

      Prop H must go back to public voters, ((Prop H-a) ; only 1 term in office, yup, only one (4) yr term and no pay, no perks, no insurance…….nada, strictly pro bono compared to Villa Park and Palos Verdes Estates. Commissioners at large from resume pool and arrest the politics and incest at commissioner levels.

      Stop rehiring retires back in to permanent PART -TIME jobs, CM/ AND 2 ACM, retire after 25 yrs. Goodbye …………allow new employment blood to bleed in to Mgmt.

  5. Destino Street Reply

    March 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks to LCCN: excel story. Thanks to M/M Soto too.

    Cerritos retired Council: Bruce Barrows, and City attorney Mark’s Steres, should be held to the highest bar, and if there’s 1/ 1,000,000 degree of evidence stating that the candidate Bruce should not be running, then that should take presence and Bruce should not run.

    www.cerritos.us/_pdfs/term_limits.pdf

    Could Steres license be revoked or suspended, voter should file a complaint letter to DA Office and Bar Assoc.?

    www.calbar.ca.gov/

    USA People look up at all USA elected officials as being as having the highest character in the city. Law clearly states there is a degree of question over the 24 months time period, feel it’s a best interest of both Bruce and of the voters of this city, to not honor Bruce, candidate for the 2017 election. Bruce is trying to skirt around unclear section of the law, which has been mediated in court, and could to be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court .

    Voters passed the Prop H, term limits! 60% said yes, so let it be and lets not harm Cerritos with more neg. hoopla and court litigation.

    We don’t need a million appeals for this decision, just drop out from this 2017 election, and hoping that the voters will pass a petition for proposition H; to go back on the ballot for clarification.

    Jim Edwards must resign too, he skirted around the law passed by the voters, called Prop H.

    Also would like to see the overnight parking permit, which is over 50 years old, put to the voters, as this is bleeding the city budget by almost $.5M dollars.

    Cerritos has way too many resolutions, and it is scaring away the heartland of America buyers and diversity. We are one of the few cities what has so many resolutions from A- Z , Cerritos buyers originally did not buy into the homeowners association type of philosophy. Our real estate values per square foot are well below other cities, cities which have less resolutions tied to their deeds. We are creating the 90703 data from over regulated resolutions, we are creating a mass prejudice over our city and buyers wall to keep Heartland of American buyers from investing in to a city.

    It’s a disgrace that Bruce Barrows has let this go on this long, this really shows his intent and lack of character. Mrs. Barrows should be ashamed of herself, she is a ABCUSD teacher retired teacher at Tracy High School……………. should know the values of right from wrong, as she’s allowing her husband to play with the voters Minds.
    Hello, you are both M/M Barrows.

    www.loscerritosnews.net/2017/03/25/1989-judges-ruling-ignored-by-cerritos-city-attorney-takes-barrows-out-of-council-race/

    In many minds, the Cerritos sh- shh- shhhh groups are all saying city hall corruption is on overtime:

    1-Is this about Prop H?
    2-Bruce brutal attack on beating residents body, inflicting physical hard, at city hall compounds?
    3-Or the insider trading of the RDA Knowledge/ litigation settlement, prior to milking the forums?
    4-Or is the oral spitting contest on to the poorest residents of the city, where Bruce said should be turned over to the state or county?
    5- Bruce trying to buy more political power for trains and transportation?

    This blah blah election in 2017, has been over powered by Cerritos Prop H and the lack of intelligent forums. Voters have lost interest and are not being educated, because due diligence in this election has been tossed in to barnyard manure shadows, casted by Bruce and Prop H.

    Candidate:

    [email protected] | [email protected]
    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected];

    Council Members:

    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected];
    [email protected]

    Reader,

    Destino Street

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